Title IX Procedures and Criminal Matters

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Nov 09, 2021 | 0 Comments

The Daily Cardinal recently reported a campus sexual assault disclosed in a “Crime Warning” email sent out to the entire UW-Madison campus community.

The Daily Cardinal is the University of Wisconsin–Madison student newspaper. The newspaper outlined what was said in the email that the sexual assault occurred in a university residence hall. The incident was handled by the school's Title IX program, which at UW-Madison is called the Sexual Misconduct Resource and Response Program.

The Daily Cardinal emphasized that there was no active police investigation since the alleged victim had not filed a police report. However, the point of the article was to suggest that this is unusual. However, in reality, though extremely serious, Title IX cases are often not police matters but instead handled by the school. So why is that?

How is Campus Sexual Assault Punished?

Exactly what counts as sexual assault can vary widely. Sexual assault is an offense in most criminal codes, punishable by law. However, the definition of sexual assault is different from state to state. What's more, while local definitions and elements of various crimes vary, it remains true that there is a very high standard of evidence needed to file a charge with the police.

People can accordingly be reluctant to go to the police with offenses of this nature. Even if the campus police are called after an alleged assault, most campus incidents never go near a criminal courtroom.

Well aware of this, schools and colleges feel a strong duty of care to clamp down on sexual misdemeanors on campus. Schools and colleges typically endeavor to be more sensitive to the accused. Indeed universities can feel an acute political pressure to harshly punish those accused of campus sexual misconduct, not to mention pressure from students, parents, and donors. Schools also fear unwanted media attention so are motivated to err on the side of overzealous when punishing alleged misconduct.

Allegations might fall far from meeting the bar for criminal sexual assault but result in suspensions or expulsions from a college campus. Similarly, an allegation may be very far from meeting the standard of evidence required in a criminal trial, but the school can punish the accused student with the strictest sanctions the school has at its disposal.

Do You Need an Attorney?

If you have been accused of sexual misconduct on campus, it may not be a criminal matter. However, this is no reason for complacency. Your college has a wide range of sanctions they may use against you, which can include a permanent bar from campus and even revoking your degree. While prison may not be on the cards, your college can take away your reputation, your investment in your education, and your future prospects.

Colleges typically have a dedicated full-time team and sophisticated procedures for investigating alleged sexual misconduct. They have a very wide range of steps and punishments in their arsenal with which to respond to allegations, up to and including revoking degrees and permanently expelling students.

All educational institutions which receive federal funding have to abide by Title IX: the federal civil rights law passed to protect students from discrimination based on sex. Schools and colleges must handle Title IX discrimination with policies that are compliant with up-to-date Title IX guidance. Your college will have a Title IX coordinator who will oversee sexual misconduct allegations and ensure they comply.

If your college is investigating you for sexual misconduct, you can expect there to be an investigation with interviews, culminating in a written report and a live hearing with witnesses and cross-examination.

These are administrative school matters rather than criminal justice proceedings. However, they are sophisticated, intimidating procedures with everything on the line. A lack of familiarity with school policy and procedures will hurt you. The school may be biased in their eagerness to prove that they are tough on campus sexual assault. In any case, the stakes are high, and the bar is low.

For this reason, you must have the strongest defense you possibly can. You have the right to an advisor in any and all school Title IX proceedings. Your defending advisor should not be a local criminal defender but an attorney experienced in school proceedings and Title IX defense.

Nationwide Title IX Defense

Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm defend those accused of sexual assault day in and day out at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento and his team are nationally-recognized for their fighting for a fair process and the best possible outcome for Title IX respondents. When everything is on the line, you need a team in your corner with a long track record of success. The Lento Law Firm can help. Call today at 888-535-3686.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Mr. Lento represents students and others in disciplinary cases and other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Mr. Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he has sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address school-related issues and concerns anywhere in the United States.


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